I gave up on the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series by Volume 5 so never got to Brandon Sanderson’s concluding contributions to that series. My first ..Show More »books by Sanderson were those of the Mistborn Trilogy. I was totally captivated by the story and its writing. I avoided The Way of Kings because of its Audible 2 credit price but finally caved because I had lusted so long for something so good as Mistborn. I should not have delayed. The Way of Kings was well worth the price and promises to be one of the best ever series by Sanderson or any SF/Fantasy author. This is Book 1 of the Stormlight Archive.
Coming in at over 45 hours on audiobook or over 1000 pages in print, for some TWoK might seem too lengthy. Personally, for me, it ended all too soon. The book was totally gripping and absorbing. I could not put it down. The writing contains wit and charm, adventure and philosophy, comedy and pathos. It’s all there, a wide range of human thought and emotion. While constructed of multiple arcs, the writing is completely straight forward, accessible and easy to follow.
I became totally invested in each character and cared for everyone of the good guys and even some of the bad ones. One of the most interesting characters, one named Szeth, is a peace-loving believer in nonviolence but is also an ultimate, ninja-like assassin who hates to but is forced to kill and cries each time that he does. How’s that for a crazy mixed-up contradiction. Frankly, I think that Szeth is a metaphor for many of us and our behavior. But among my favorite and central characters were a peasant, apprentice surgeon named Kaladin and a spren named Syl with whom Kal has a rather magical and symbiotic relationship.
Spren appear throughout the book. They were for me various types of conscious energy or spirit-like entities that were part of or associated with almost everything on the planet including specific kinds of thoughts and emotions, wellness and sickness, life and death. They particularly seem to appear when “change” happens and it is at least at this point in the series difficult to know if they are responsible for, contribute to or are just present when changes in anything from one’s health to the weather occur.
Speaking of the weather, the environment and particularly the atmosphere of the planet and how the geology, flora and fauna have evolved within the influence of extreme weather is integral to the storyline. The book describes and develops half a dozen interesting and well defined fictional races. Wars exist on the planet among them over the power and dominance brought by the magical weapons known as Shardblades and Shardplates. And, while war is one of the central themes of the book, descriptions of battles and war do not dominate the narrative.
What came across most movingly, uniquely clear and beautifully written were the two human qualities of love and compassion. I do not think that those two attributes have ever been more deftly portrayed than it is in this book. Some of my other favorite SF/Fantasy writers including Dan Simmons and Peter F. Hamilton while brilliant in almost every other respect, fail to adequately communicate those two essential qualities of our nature. Other authors talk about it, their characters go through the motions and maybe say the words but I just do not always “feel the love” in their writings like I do in reading this book. The humanity and heroism portrayed by some of the characters in TWoK were strikingly remarkable. It is another one of those attributes of Sanderson’s writing that makes everything more real and capable of eliciting emotions within the reader.
Magic abounds in the book and all of it seems to make sense if ever magic can be made sense of. It was once said that any technology sufficiently advanced will appear as magic and this is that kind magic, magic that can almost be but not quite understood. There is plenty of adventure and excitement contained within the pages and Kate Reading and particularly Michael Kramer bring it all to life. Yes, this is the same duo that narrated the Wheel of Time saga. Their talent was well highlighted there but I believe even more so in The Way of Kings.
This was one great book and the only downside is that Sanderson is so prolific with his other literary pursuits that the sequel to this one is long overdue and the Audible rendition even longer than that.
This book consumed my life for 3 weeks. Not a second of it was wasted.
All of the characters are interesting and real. Even the bit players ..Show More »stuck with me - Ishic the Fisherman in particular. I really hope that Sanderson will expand on some of those in the next books - I'm optimistic, from all reports he'll have plenty of pages to fill :). I keep trying to imagine what will happen when all of the characters eventually meet (for instance, I'm certain that Rock will fall head-over-heels for Shalan).
The glimpses you get of the 'magic' systems are intriguing, and I kept catching myself trying to put the pieces of it together when I really should have been doing other things (sleeping, for instance).
The environment is unique, the plants and animals are a mixture of the familiar and strange and hint at events that must have happened in the world's past ... and even as I write this, I'm putting more pieces together :) I think I may have to listen to it for a 5th time.
I would recommend listening to the whole book at least twice. Listening over it again with hindsight/foreknowledge of where the story is going lets you see events in a very different way, and the simple length means that even the most careful listener will miss some gems. I'm considering buying the hardcopy as well.
In the first book, “The Way of Kings,” we were introduced to the world of Roshar. It is a world of magic and aliens where hurricane-like storms lay sa..Show More »vage to the world every few days and all of its inhabitants must adapt their lives accordingly. It is a world at war between the human armies led by High prince Dalinar Kholin and the Parshendi, a humanoid species. We were introduced to Jasnah, who is a renowned scholar and the niece of the High Prince Dalinar Kholin, her student Shallan, and Kaladin, a slave that by the end of Way of Kings is beginning to become the world’s first Knight’s Radiance in centuries. If you haven’t read/listened to ”The Way of Kings,” I would strongly recommend that you do before going on to this second book, “Words of Radiance.” If you have read/listened to the first book I would recommend a review of TWOK before going on since it has been over four years and the second book starts off right where “The Way of Kings,” left off. At 48 hours and 15 minutes this is a long book, in fact Brandon Sanderson posted on his blog that he wrote the manuscript under the working title “the Book of Endless Pages.” He was referring to the endless learning set forth in his first book but it seemed appropriate given its length; but don’t let the length of this book deter you as I listened the hours seemed to fly past. This is an amazing book. “Word of Radiance” focuses on four characters: Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar, and Adolin. In TWOK Kaladin was the main character and is still very prevalent but this book reveals more about Shallan. Like “The Way of Kings,” Sanderson interlaces the present with the past, developing the background on the main characters’ while moving the plot forward. This is only book two in a ten part series and even though I can’t wait for the next book I found the ending satisfactory. I word about the narrators, I’ve always been a big fan of Michael Kramer and Kate Reading and I thought they gave another great performance.